Restaurant Review: Storrs Smokehouse

Breakfast is a reassuring sign at a barbecue joint. Even if you're not in the mood for early-morning biscuits and gravy, it's always good to see the pitmaster hanging around the kitchen just after dawn.

Loal Stahlnecker, the pitmaster at Newberg's new Storrs Smokehouse, says it's no sweat for his crew: "We're here anyway."

That's what I like to hear. And after Storrs' sampler plate ($19), which offers a taste of all the meats at this super-casual side project from the owners of the nearby Painted Lady restaurant, I'm appreciative of his predawn efforts. If you're headed down to wine country this summer, Storrs is one of your better options for a low-key post-pinot meal.

The Gran' Daddy "plate" is actually a red plastic cafeteria tray lined with white butcher paper and heaped with four meats. It'll easily serve two. The ribs were best, a trimmed-down St. Louis cut that was tender but pleasantly ropey below a crust of peppery dry-rub.

The brisket was also on the firm side, and improved by the sweet heat of the Spicy Cowboy sauce, among four sauces on the table. The cut was better on the plate ($12 with coleslaw, pickle and a slice of bread) than as a sandwich made with Pearl Bakery's familiar ciabatta and a layer of gooey white cheese.

I'm not usually a fan of smoked wings, given that small pieces of chicken tend to get mushy in a smoker. But Storrs does one of the better versions, the white meat darkened with smoke and coated in a sweet maple sauce. Still, I wouldn't buy them outside the sampler plate; six are priced at $1 each otherwise.

We tried pulled pork both on a stand-alone sandwich ($7) and from Gran' Daddy's lap. The plate version wasn't properly shredded: We had to pull big pieces of black bark apart with our forks to get the right mix of meat. The sandwich's pork, happily, didn't suffer the same problem.

The sides, as is common with new 'cue restaurants, need a little work. Rich baked beans ($3.50 small, $6 large) with bacon bits in a thick sauce were delicious, as were the pickles and pickled green tomato slices, but the orange-tinted pasta salad ($3.50 small, $6 large) was watery rather than creamy, and the three-bean salad with chickpeas, kidney beans and sliced green beans ($2.50 small) was useful only as an acidic palate cleanser. Those problems are easy enough to iron out, though.

I wasn't around to try the biscuits and gravy, which are available starting at 7 am. But it seems like a smart stop if you can withstand hunger long enough to get past that 99W traffic. It's best to get an early start in the valley—after all, winemakers, unlike pitmasters, mostly keep banker's hours.

  1. Order this: Gran’ Daddy sampler plate ($19).
  2. Best deal: Pulled-pork sandwich ($7).
  3. I’ll pass: Brisket sandwich, wings.

EAT: Storrs Smokehouse, 310 E 1st St., Newberg, 538-8080, 7 am-7 pm Thursday-Monday.

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